April 01, 2010



"The Golden Compass" was wonderful and unique. But each succeeding novel became more ranting, dogmatic and stale. I was relieved when he ended the series.


I'm wondering about the tone behind that "No one has the right...." Is it acerbic? Amused? Undertone of sorrow?

And what on earth can Henry James have meant by that comment on the right about history? Just curious.

Today is not only April Fools, but also the inauguration of National Poetry Month....


I have to agree with Niall about the series - subsequent books didn't live up to the first one. But I wouldn't call them stale, and I did enjoy all of them, though it's The Golden Compass (called Northern Lights elsewhere) that I still love, despite the fact that I'm now 20 and supposed to be enjoying different books. (I brought it with me to college.)

As for his sentiment in the video clip, I think he put it well. No one has the right to spend their lives without being offended... Rights of one always rub up against the rights of others. And as for the Catholic Church, they're long past the point where they could strike fear into men of letters.

Naresh Ramchandani

The Golden compass was a hit. Did anyone cross Game of Thrones by George Martin. Man its a masterpiece!!


If you’ve got an iPhone, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is also available as an ‘enhanced edition’ – featuring audio, the full text and exclusive video content. Find out more at http://bit.ly/ee-Scoundrel.


This is interesting...

I find the title quite blasphemous but at the same time i'm impressed with his courage in picking said title.

An excellent display of authorial balls and one we would do well to learn from.


Wonderful. Thanks for posting, Mark.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
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